The ESB intends to use the opportunity provided by the redevelopment of its head office in Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, which it announced last week, to create a “world-class example of sustainable and innovative headquarters”. According to documentation issued last Friday by the ESB, one of the key criteria for a design contest for the new complex will be “the participants’ proposals for a solution to the aspect of the Lower Fitzwilliam Street facade”. This facade was the most controversial element of the existing headquarters built in 1970 – following an earlier architectural competition won by the late Arthur Gibney and Sam Stephenson – because it meant demolishing 16 Georgian houses. At the time, conservationists were appalled that Dublin’s longest Georgian facade, from Mount Street to Leeson Street, was to be broken by a modern building fronted by precast concrete window panels and set on a podium. The ESB brought in Sir John Summerson, a leading English architectural historian, to give his opinion on the merit of the houses to be demolished. Notoriously, he condemned them as “simply one damned house after another”.